15.5 Annex E: Wider impacts
15.5.1 There is increasing recognition that policies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions not only mitigate the risks of climate change but also impact on other societal objectives such as improved air quality and health outcomes. Developing a more detailed understanding of such potential wider impacts has been an important part of the development of this draft Climate Change Plan.
15.5.2 Consequently, the Scottish Government commissioned three evidence reviews of the potential wider impacts of climate change mitigation options, focusing on:
- Agriculture, Forestry, Waste and Related Land Use
- Built Environment
15.5.3 The reviews have synthesised qualitative and quantitative evidence relevant to Scotland, indicating the direction and magnitude of potential wider impacts of climate change mitigation actions. In addition, where possible, the reviews identified tools which could quantify and monetise wider impacts and reviewed the evidence from an equalities perspective. An overview of the findings of the reviews is provided below, with the full reports available on the Scottish Government website  .
Agriculture, Forestry, Waste and related Land Use
15.5.4 There is a wide variety of potential climate change mitigation options within the agriculture, forestry and related land use sectors. Consequently, the evidence review focused on a selection of 12 broad mitigation options. For the waste sector the report focused on potential employment benefits from diverting tonnages from landfill to recycling.
15.5.5 Overall, there is robust evidence of positive wider impacts deriving from all of the selected mitigation options, with multiple positive impacts from on-farm renewable energy, precision farming, anaerobic digestion, agroforestry, optimal mineral nitrogen use, livestock health, reduced livestock product consumption, afforestation and peatland restoration. This indicates the potential for delivering robust and varied co-benefits in a wide range of policy areas.
15.5.6 The positive wider impacts cover a variety of aspects including air quality, water quality, resource efficiency and human health. However, the evidence on the wider impacts of some mitigation options, such as livestock health and optimal soil pH, is weak and therefore there is a need for further research.
15.5.7 Within the waste sector, the evidence base indicates that as waste is moved up the hierarchy, from residual disposal and treatment to recycling, there are employment benefits, with the number of people employed per tonne managed tending to increase.
15.5.8 Overall, the evidence base suggests there are a number of potential co-benefits associated with climate change mitigation measures in the built environment sector, with health and fuel poverty reduction benefits associated with increased energy efficiency identified as a key theme.
15.5.9 There is strong evidence that improved energy efficiency (e.g. through insulation) can result in warmer homes which can lead to substantial physical health benefits. Mental health benefits are also identified and include reductions in stress, e.g. due to mitigation of concerns over high energy bills and household debt.
15.5.10 The fuel savings associated with increased energy efficiency can be substantial. There is, however, the potential for rebound effects where cost savings may result in the uptake of more carbon intensive behaviours or increased consumption. However, these could be considered as co-benefits if they help increase quality of life and reduce social inequality. Energy efficiency can also offer benefits for the non-domestic sector including cost savings and increased productivity.
15.5.11 Green infrastructure (strategically planned and managed networks of green spaces) offers many benefits including reducing the 'urban heat island' effect, which can reduce health risks to occupants especially the elderly. It can also offer wellbeing benefits, reflecting the importance of access to green spaces on the health of people of all ages.
15.5.12 Behaviour change, e.g. turning down the thermostat, can result in carbon reduction in the short term, and offers participants financial benefits.
15.5.13 The reduction in use of fossil fuels, either through avoided energy consumption, the use of less energy-intensive materials or the use of low carbon energy sources and more efficient heating, cooling and lighting technologies, can offer air quality benefits.
15.5.14 The use of sustainable building materials offers several potential co-benefits, e.g. through the diversification of forestry and agricultural co-products.
15.5.15 Overall, the evidence base suggests there are a number of potential co-benefits associated with transport climate change mitigation measures. However, the extent of these benefits is dependent on how and where policies are implemented and the extent of consumer uptake and acceptance.
15.5.16 Emerging literature suggests that improvements in vehicle efficiency for example, through the use of electric vehicles, can reduce air quality pollutant emissions.
15.5.17 There is a potential for noise reduction through the use of electric vehicles, however a fuller understanding of the implications of the European Commission's required introduction of sound generating devices on these vehicles is necessary to better understand the extent of this potential reduction.
15.5.18 Modal shift from car to public transport and walking and cycling can potentially bring about reductions in noise, air pollution and congestion. The level of benefit depends on the extent of modal shift in terms of car vehicle kilometres reduced, and where and when these reductions take place.
15.5.19 There is strong evidence that active travel interventions can, through increased physical activity, bring about substantial health benefits, such as reductions in disease and mortality. However, further work is required to enable the quantification of benefits of reductions in disease in the Scottish context.
Email: Kirsty Lewin
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House